Eating nutritious foods is important at every age, but as we hit our fifth decade, metabolism slows down and we don't recover from injuries like we used to. We may also worry about memory or keeping our minds sharp. It's time to turn to food for maximum health.
First, calories matter. Calories are energy so the more you take in, the more you have to expend to maintain your weight.
According to the Health.gov, moderately active men at age 51-55 need about 2,400 calories a day. That drops by 200 calories for those who are sedentary, so if you want to eat more, you need to move more. This average number of 2,400 represents a drop from the twenties where moderately active men need about 2,800 calories, and the 30s and 40s where men need about 2,600 calories.
As our natural metabolism slows, it is necessary to watch our overall intake. The best way to do this is to focus on whole foods that are both filling and nutritious and avoid processed food.
Good foods to eat include:
- Fruits and vegetables, in their whole forms, although frozen or canned (with low salt) are just fine.
- Proteins, including fish and vegetable sources such as beans.
- Dairy. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to keep their bones strong. Low-fat dairy, green leafy vegetables and calcium fortified fruit juices can help, and if you take a supplement, make sure it contains both calcium and Vitamin D. The National Institutes of Health say that men ages 51-70 need about 1,000 mg a day of calcium and an intake of 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D up to age 70, then the amount goes up to 800 IU.
- Don't forget the dietary fiber for digestive health, at least 30 grams a day.
- Potassium is another important mineral that may help lower blood pressure (as long as you are also reducing salt). Potassium comes from many foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
- Healthy fats also play a role. Look for unsaturated fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, and walnuts, avocados, and almonds.
Good nutrition is also helpful for injury recovery. According to an article in Sports Medicine, "Nutrition is one method to counter the impact of exercise-induced injury." This doesn't mean go crazy with the supplements. It means consuming a well-balanced diet with minimally processed foods.
Feel your best as you age by feeding your body right.